Reflections on Independence, Volume 5
By Dave Berman
July 4, 2007 - This is the fifth installment in my annual Reflections on Independence series. My mind is liable to seize when considering how far down the slippery slope we've slid since the first of these essays. Yet it is heartening to look back five years to my first call for impeachment and revolution, and to realize how many millions more have spoken out similarly since then.
There may be nothing redeeming about those who have hijacked America, but if nothing else, we can laud them for being so remarkably similar to those overthrown in the first American Revolution. This national holiday of ours has created for me a tradition of reading again those immortal words that speak of our unalienable rights, and submit facts for a candid world to consider abuses, injuries and usurpations endured because "mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
The Declaration of Independence is the master change manual. It notes that it may be human nature to endure suffering, and that "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." And yet it defines not only "the Right of the People to alter or to abolish" their government, but indeed their "duty" to do so when government fails to secure our unalienable rights and derive its "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."
I encourage you to refresh yourself on the Declaration, which is pasted at the end of this essay for your convenience. It could have been written yesterday, and yet if it had been, we certainly wouldn't hear about it on the news, unless the likes of Bill O'Reilly was cutting off your microphone and calling you a traitor. Proving our point much, Bill?
What do these historical references mean to you, or to any of us in the 21st century? I encourage you to consider publishing your own Reflections on Independence. This year as I approach this essay I find myself full of questions.
Who will liberate Iraq from its current occupiers?
Who will liberate America?
Why does any room full of Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance sound *exactly* like the Borg on Star Trek?
What do you call a person whose allegiance to a man comes before loyalty to the nation? This one is not rhetorical. We've cheered the parade of recently resigned whistleblowers, but I haven't noticed anyone booing the Secret Service as traitors. Can their job be considered honorable when it enables the behavior of war criminals? How would Nuremburg or Geneva look upon these enablers, should they ever be held to account?
Why are Bush and Cheney not the least bit worried about impeachment? For starters, Speaker Pelosi took the matter off the table, effectively telling them "don't worry about it." Why would she do this when these men have admitted and brazenly boasted with impunity about their high crimes and misdemeanors? Could it be because animals are most dangerous when wounded and/or cornered?
Is it realistic to think that Bush and Cheney will even stand for the Senate trial, stand for being held accountable? Think about their track record of avoiding accountability. Can we really believe that IF (big IF) Congress finally grows a spine, war criminals will submit to their judgment? This would be the first and only time they would have allowed themselves to be held accountable. And if countless other examples hadn't previously convinced you, don't the recent unitary executive directives make clear once and for all that they do not intend to yield power?
There really isn't any question that impeachment is appropriate and long overdue, it just won't be allowed to happen. I truly hope I'm wrong about that. But after presenting a plan for not leaving office, can we really doubt, if cornered, they will create the emergency context needed? When do We the People act like all bets are off? How many times will we say about these people, "I can't f*cking believe it!" before we acknowledge that "they'll never do THAT" is no longer a reasonable assumption? This is the most dangerous potential of trapped rats. This is not only why impeachment won't work, if it is pursued, it also may be the private fear of many in Congress who refuse to act. Is it really out there to suggest that members of Congress may be just as afraid of what is happening as the rest of us are? Can fear sometimes lead to inaction?
What is the most insidious ramification of the military being intentionally stretched too thin? The military is unavailable to respond to an emergency at home. That is devastating in the context of a natural disaster. But what about when martial law comes? It won't be our official military that enforces this, it will be mercenaries. Halliburton and Blackwater will be the occupiers of America, overseeing a network of domestic concentration camps already built. Our military, sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, will not be here to do so. The media, of course, will portray a different reality that will instead reinforce the okayness of the concentration camps and validate the authority of the hired guns, all while our military overseas supposedly, paradoxically, fights for our freedom.
What is freedom, now? What is independence, now? A few thoughts...
Independence is...growing food.
Independence is...walking and pedaling.
Independence is...local decision-making.
Independence is...the power of the sun and wind.
Independence is...knowing that a majority of the government cannot act against the will or the interest of the majority of We the People.
The federal and state governments are directly harming We the People. Only local government remains as a potential means for seeking redress of grievances. Like all layers of government, local City Councilmembers and County Supervisors swear the same oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Can we then consider it a moment of accountability to begin judging whether our local governments are upholding their oaths? And if, sadly, it can be confirmed that no layers of government are willing to protect the citizenry and the rule of law, is there any other choice then but for We the People to alter or abolish the government, as is our duty and unalienable right?
With each passing year, parallels between our own present circumstances and the grievances in the Declaration of Independence become more obvious. Not everyone was ready to see it five years ago. The vast majority of the country--far, far more than the media lets on, of course--has awakened. The response is not merely to turn support away from failed policies of deceitful war criminals. The sleeping giant that has been American public opinion is coming to terms with what is at stake.
Wherever you are, you don't have to look too far to find a community that has called for impeachment or for repeal of the Patriot Act or for the return of their National Guardsmen and an end to war. This is how it begins. In my view, citizens targeting Congress with their demands are asking a leopard to change its spots. In the first two installments of this series I concluded by saying:
"Consider your town, county, state and country. At what level does the group decision-making no longer reflect the greater good? Set your sights there and work to take control."
I think we've answered that question by now and the advice still stands. Wherever local government is cooperating with illegitimate and abusive powers wielded at the state and federal level, we must compel it to stop and engage in municipal civil disobedience. And if it will not, this is the level at which we take over, at which we alter or abolish. Like any successful revolution, this must occur from the ground up, from local to regional. You don't have to be an anarchist to subscribe to this plan. Just a good old fashioned conservative worshipper of American history.
Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!
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Read past installments:
Reflections On Independence 2002
Reflections On Independence 2003
Reflections On Independence 2005
Reflections On Independence 2006
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The Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of the Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.
HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us;
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rules into these Colonies:
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine